19 Dec

Darwinizing of Religion Continues

first_imgIn an ongoing series for the Year of Darwin in Science magazine,1 Elizabeth Culotta wrote an article with the Darwinesque title, “On the Origin of Religion.”2  The editor’s summary acknowledges that “No consensus yet exists among scientists,” but sought the only answer in Darwinian terms: “in the past 15 years, a growing number of researchers have followed Darwin’s lead and explored the hypothesis that religion springs naturally from the normal workings of the human mind.  This new field, the cognitive science of religion, draws on psychology, anthropology, and neuroscience to understand the mental building blocks of religious thought.”  Building blocks – there’s a suggestive phrase right out of origin-of-life labs.    Culotta began with a Darwin imprimatur.  “To Charles Darwin, the origin of religious belief was no mystery.  ‘As soon as the important faculties of the imagination, wonder, and curiosity, together with some power of reasoning, had become partially developed, man would naturally crave to understand what was passing around him, and would have vaguely speculated on his own existence,’ he wrote in The Descent of Man.”  Culotta acknowledged that “Darwin’s scientific descendants” are not quite so sure,” but we can trust them, because “potential answers are emerging from both the archaeological record and studies of the mind itself.”    Here’s a quick rundown on those potential answers.  Evolutionary sociologists are studying the propensity of humans to infer agents acting when things happen.  Evolutionary archaeologists are looking for clues of symbolic behavior.  Cognitive neuroscientists are looking for parts of the brain that tend toward “purpose-driven beliefs” that might be “a step on the way to religion.”  Evolutionary psychologists investigate “theory of mind” explanations that see people attributing mental states to others and to things.  Evolutionary anthropologists consider the social aspects of sharing beliefs in gods to develop social cohesion.  It’s Darwin’s game from start to finish.    Each discipline seeks to explain their piece of the religion puzzle in adaptationist, progressive terms.  The psychologists, for instance, reason that if people from childhood onward develop a tendency to see the natural world acting in a purposeful way, “It’s a small step to suppose that the design has a designer.”  Stewart Guthrie sees the invisible hand of Darwin in primitive man’s thinking processes.  “Guthrie suggested that natural selection primed this system for false positives, because if the bump in the night is really a burglar—or a lion—you could be in danger, while if it’s just the wind, no harm done.”  The anthropologists find other ways to see religion as adaptive: “By encouraging helpful behavior, religious groups boost the biological survival and reproduction of their members.”    Here, though, Culotta admitted others see such explanations as little more than just-so storytelling.  She quoted Pascal Boyer cautioning, “It is often said that religion encourages or prescribes solidarity within the group, but we need evidence that people actually follow [their religion’s] recommendations.”  Speaking of evidence, which is supposed to elevate science above other forms of explanation, she admitted to large gaps.  For instance, she said there is “a yawning gap between the material evidence of the archaeological record and the theoretical models of psychologists.”  The archaeologists have a hard time inferring beliefs from artifacts, and the psychologists are crying, “we need more evidence.”  What about the cognitive scientists?  They try to get at the roots of innate tendencies vs. learned beliefs, but they are crying for more evidence, too: “I haven’t seen lots of empirical evidence that you can get from there to religious beliefs,” said social psychologist Ara Norenzayan.  Culotta’s last sentence, quoting Norenzayan again, amounted to a promissory note admitting to gaps in evidence: “In the next 10 to 15 years there’s likely to be quite a transformation, with a lot more evidence, to give us a compelling story about how religion arose.”1.  Intro, “On the Origin of Religion,” Science, 6 November 2009: Vol. 326. no. 5954, pp. 784-787, DOI: 10.1126/science.326_7842.  Elizabeth Culotta, “Origins: On the Origin of Religion,” Science, 6 November 2009: Vol. 326. no. 5954, pp. 784-787, DOI: 10.1126/science.326_784.What’s this?  You were told that science was science, and religion was religion, and never the twain shall meet.  What are the Darwinists doing putting your dear pastor, priest or rabbi in the test tube?  Didn’t Stephen Jay Gould promise that science would stay out of religion if religion stayed out of science?  What is this “evolution of religion” talk?    As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, let us draw some parallels.  East Germany was one of the most tightly controlled ideological regimes in the communist sphere.  The thought police (Stasi) had informers everywhere and kept miles of files on everyone.  It was a crime to think outside the party doctrine.  As with all the communist dictatorships, religion was suppressed, although the regime allowed some puppet churches to operate for propaganda purposes (e.g., when U.S. diplomats visited, so that they could talk about all the religious freedom they witnessed).  What the puppet churches were allowed to say and not say, of course, was monitored and controlled.  Yet history surprised the dictators.  Their regime fell literally overnight, as thousands of freedom-starved East Germans rushed the gates at the first indication of hope, and Gorby refused to send in the tanks, stinging from Reagan’s challenge, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”    To communists, everything in the universe must be interpreted in the light of Marxist ideology.  Darwinians are cut from the same cloth; just substitute Darwin for Marx (who admired Darwin).  In fact, in the same issue of Science, the editors allowed Gretchen Vogel to call the fall of the Berlin wall a “mixed blessing” for East German science directors.  Are they feeling nostalgia for the good old days?  After all, Darwinists are dictators themselves with informers and thought police everywhere, looking for the slightest uprising in a classroom or school board that might challenge Dictator Darwin.  The Darwin Stasi (fronted by the ACLU, Americans United, PAW, NCSE) race into action to cut off any hint of the threat of “creationism.”  They court liberal theologians for propaganda purposes, allowing them to practice their faith as long as it is inside the science lab under the control of the white lab coated thought police.  All the pastors, priests and rabbis have to do to keep peace with the Stasi is pledge allegiance to Darwin.  See how tolerant they are?  Their captives, the renegade appeasers in theological garb, are in for a surprise that was expressed well by Brett Miller in this cartoon.    Don’t fall for the Party line.  It should be crystal clear that Culotta’s own imprimatur-blessed propaganda piece is fluff.  How long are suckers going to wait for their promised “compelling story about how religion arose”?  Sounds like the promised utopia that never arrives.  It’s a story, all right.  Where’s the evidence?  How convenient that every discipline is moaning about the need for more evidence.  Folks, without evidence, they do not have science!  Ignore the fMRI blips; they are trading in ideologically-guided speculation.  And they want to tell YOU how you are supposed to think.  Love freedom!  Tear down this wall!    As the Western democracies won by the human tide pouring through the opened gates, the creationists will win when freedom comes.  Jesus Christ said “You will know them by their fruits.”  Where laws have protected free expression of religion, the arts and sciences have flourished.  Where the Bible has been taken by missionaries, poverty and dictatorship has diminished.  And where informed and evidence-supported creation science is permitted, education will flourish, too.  Check the record; compare achievement of 19th century and early 20th century schools, where McGuffy Readers quoting the Bible were stock in trade and classes opened with prayer and science was done to the glory of God, with the awful record of dropouts and school shootings in today’s DODO schools (Darwin-only, Darwin-only).  Look at how home school students, often from Christian homes, are trouncing their politically-correct peers.  It’s the Christian schools that teach evidences for and against Darwinism.  They don’t fear losing their students.  The Darwin-only public schools rightly fear losing their students if the truth about the scientific evidence were allowed.  Forget creationism – the thought police don’t even allow scientific criticisms of Darwin to be heard.  This artificial selection imposed by Darwin-only breeders is producing monstrosities that could not survive in the wild.  You might even say it shows that the creationists are the fittest.    But all this is unnecessary posturing, because the Darwinists have no case.  We know this, because if we applied their very same reasoning to themselves (i.e., the evolution of Darwinizing speculation), their argument would collapse into a recursive black hole.  So while Culotta and her interviewees are swimming around like little Darwin fish scooping up the detritus on the bottom (animism, cult figurines, fMRI scans, etc.), they have not yet realized their ocean is inside the Christian fish.  They are feeding on gifts the Christian fish is bringing them (see 11/05/2009 and 08/13/2007 commentaries).  Like captives pretending to be autonomous, everything they depend on—logic, reason, evidence—is not of their own making.  The Christian fish is the universe of which nature is a subset.  If the Darwin guppies want to repent and help build up the true fish, they can provide nourishment for the truth.  If not, they can keep swimming in circles a little while longer till they get pooped out.(Visited 127 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

18 Dec

Scientist gets mine drainage patent

first_imgProf Jannie Maree has successfully received a patent to treat acid mine drainage.(Image: www.savingwater.co.za) Masters students Vhahangwele Akin Bologo and Dineo Maila, with Prof Jannie Maree.(Image: Prof Jannie Maree) MEDIA CONTACTS • Professor Jannie Maree   Rand Water Chair, Faculty of Science, Tshwane University of Technology  +27 12 382 6343. RELATED ARTICLES • Working towards sustainable mining • CSIR at the World Water Forum • Mining history for new solutionsAneshree NaidooWhen the Witwatersrand Gold Rush began 127 years ago, it birthed the city of Johannesburg, affectionately known in Zulu as eGoli, the City of Gold. But years later, as the ground gave up its last golden nuggets, the abandoned mines have filled up with acidic water that poses a significant pollution threat to the city’s water resources.But South African academics and scientists have been hard at work on solutions to tackle the corrosive mining by-product, and one has successfully applied for, and received, a United States patent for an acid mine water treatment process.A world-leading scientific processProfessor Jannie Maree, Rand Water chair in water utilisation in Tshwane University of Technology’s Faculty of Science, says the magnesium-barium-hydroxide (MBO) process, which removes metals and sulphate from mine water, offered South Africa a technically sound and cost-effective solution for the acid mine water problem.Acid mine drainage is highly acidic water, usually containing high concentrations of metals, sulphides and salts from mining. This acid runoff also dissolves heavy metals such as copper, lead and mercury into ground or surface water, threatening the health of rivers by disrupting aquatic organisms’ growth and reproduction. Further problems include the acidic runoff corroding infrastructure like bridges. Most importantly though, the drainage pollutes groundwater, which contributes to the drinking water supply. In a water-poor country like South Africa this poses a significant problem.So much so that in his 2012 State of the Nation address South Africa’s President Zuma said that R248-million was to be invested over the next two years to deal with acid mine drainage on the Witwatersrand, an extensively mined area in the Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan Area in the province of Gauteng.Gold mining began in 1886 on the Witwatersrand, which stretches 50km from Krugersdorp to the west, to Boksburg to the east. From the 1950s mines across the region started closing down and the last remaining operational mine, East Rand Propriety Mines in Boksburg, closed its operations in 2008.During the mining period, there was infrastructure in place to pump water out of the mines. But as they closed down, the underground voids created from mining operations have filled up as the pumps have ceased. Accumulated water has also flowed into adjacent mines, filling up the entire void.Laboratory success, real world applicationMaree said removing metals and sulphate with the MBO process could produce water that contained levels low enough to be acceptable as drinking water. “This was provided the levels of sodium and chloride in the treated water was low.”He added that the “patented process was used with great success at laboratory level”, where water from coal and gold mines was used. The success of the process success was recorded in Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) postgraduate student Hangwi Bologo’s master’s dissertation.Maree describes the income-generating side to the process, saying “the saleable products from the process would be sulphur, calcium carbonate and the treated water. Depending on the water quality other saleable compounds could be metals and magnesium hydroxide.”He adds: “SA imports its sulphur. Sulphuric acid is produced from sulphur which is an important raw material in the manufacturing of fertiliser.”The water treatment stage is ready for full-scale implementation.  The thermal stage where barium sulphate is processed to barium hydroxide needs to be demonstrated on a pilot scale.  This will be done by September 2014. For full-scale implementation the process will compete with technologies such as reverse osmosis, ion exchange and biological sulphate removal.Acid drainage filtrationAnother academic working on, among others, the acid mine drainage problem, Professor Sunny Iyuke of the University of the Witwatersrand School of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering, has, with the help of PhD students, developed a membrane to separate waste from water. The membrane has applications across industry, water purification and even medicine.According to Iyuke the membrane (similar to a household water filter) could be used to catch water waste from mines before it entered drains or the water table.last_img read more

3 Dec

Akbar calls #MeToo allegations false, scurrilous

first_imgFormer Union Minister M.J. Akbar on Wednesday recorded his statement before a court here in support of his allegations levelled in a criminal defamation complaint against senior journalist Priya Ramani.Recording his statement before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal, Mr. Akbar said that he had suffered “damage due to the scurrilous and false charges levelled by Ms. Ramani”.“Indeed there was an immediate damage because of the scurrilous nature of these concocted and false allegations. I was attacked in my personal capacity about alleged and fabricated non-events allegedly done two decades ago,” he said in his statement.“I chose in that environment to seek justice in my personal capacity without the appurtenance of office. This is why I offered my resignation as Minister of State, Government of India. My reputation has been tarnished in the eyes of general public and those who are near and dear and known to me,” he said. Mr. Akbar had resigned from the Union Council of Ministers on October 17.Later, on conclusion of Mr. Akbar’s statement, the court posted the matter on November 12 for recording statements of other witnesses cited by him in his complaint.Taking cognisance of the complaint on October 18, the Additional CMM had summoned Mr. Akbar for recording his statement.The former editor had sought Ms. Ramani’s prosecution for allegedly defaming him by accusing him of sexual misconduct with journalists who worked with him in different media houses over the years. Mr. Akbar in his complaint cited an open letter by Ms. Ramani published in Vogue magazine last October and her tweets as defamatory.The complaint stated that “the accused herself, while putting forward defamatory statements relating to incidents which allegedly occurred 20 years ago, simultaneously admits that the complainant has not done anything to her”.(With PTI inputs)last_img read more

1 Dec

Where Odisha is galloping to progress

first_imgPrashant Kumar Behera, a 41-year-old junior engineer in the Rural Works Division of Odisha’s Malkangiri district is working to ensure that development is on a fast trot in some of the remotest parts of the State. He works in villages located on land cut off by the Balimela reservoir. This region lacks roads to this day, and even surveying is possible only on horseback. So Mr. Behera often borrows a horse from the villagers and sets off on his expeditions. His visits form the ground work for new roads to connect the remote villages. Looking at his method, time stands still for many as horse-borne technical surveys were a feature of the pre-Independence era. 100 isolated villages Nearly 100 villages isolated by the Balimela reservoir are not connected by roads. When the Gurupriya bridge was opened on July 26, 2018, part of this region with 151 villages got linked to the rest of Odisha and became ‘Swabhiman Anchal’ (region of pride). Now, plans are on to build roads under the Setu project of the Odisha government and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana of the Centre, to connect the 100-odd villages. The idea faces opposition from the Maoists, who stalled construction of the Gurupriya bridge for decades. Mr. Behera, posted at Khairaput along with his small team, is conducting surveys for roads in areas where no bike or four-wheeler can go. “For over 15 days a month, I use a horse. The entire region is horse country. Tribals use them for their transport and they are happy to share one,” he said. “When I am unable to return, I stay overnight at a village along with the horse,” he added. “Routes normally used by horses through the hilly forested terrain are less steep, and therefore good candidates for roads,” he explained. The horse-riding engineer also makes notes about drinking water, health and education issues and relays them to those departments. Since Maoists oppose the move, he tries to build public opinion about roads as catalysts of development. As he sees it, more people support new roads than those who oppose them, and so he has never faced a Maoist threat.He and his friends at Malkangiri have also formed a group to add a practical benefit to the surveys. They collect used clothes, blankets and household goods for the needy, and hand them over during visits.last_img read more

28 Jul

Rice Universityrun poll Parker leads Hall by 20 percent as Houston mayoral

first_imgShareNEWS RELEASEDavid Ruth713-348-6327david@rice.eduJeff Falk713-348-6775jfalk@rice.edu Rice University-run poll: Parker leads Hall by 20 percent as Houston mayoral election is six weeks outDespite lead, findings suggest a runoff election HOUSTON – (Sept. 24, 2013) – With six weeks till Election Day, a poll conducted by Rice University’s Center for Civic Leadership shows Houston Mayor Annise Parker with a 20-percentage-point lead over former City Attorney Ben Hall. However, Parker only has the support of 34 percent of respondents, with Hall receiving 14 percent. Forty-eight percent said they are unsure whom they will support Nov. 5.The poll is based on interviews with 424 registered voters in the city of Houston between Sept. 11 and 20. It has an error rate of plus or minus 4.76 percent. It was prepared for KHOU-TV and KUHF-FM as part of a series of studies being announced this week. None of the other seven candidates received more than 2 percent of voter support in the poll.Separately, 62 percent of likely voters in the election feel the city is on the right track, with 57 percent rating Parker’s performance as positive.These findings suggest a runoff election for mayor between Parker and Hall, said Robert Stein, Rice’s Lena Gohlman Fox Professor of Political Science, who oversaw the poll. The runoff would take place Dec. 14.Historically, Parker has not polled well in pre-election surveys, Stein said. The mayor received 37 percent of voter support in a 2011 pre-election survey, and this is reflected in her narrow victory in 2011, where she won with 51 percent over her then-opponent, former City Attorney Gene Locke.Parker’s share of the vote by race and ethnicity is broad, according to the poll. She garnered 38 percent of the Anglo vote, 42 percent of the Hispanic vote and 24 percent of African-American vote. Hall, an African-American, has support from 29 percent of African-American voters. Parker garnered 27 percent of Anglo Republican voters’ support, compared with only 11 percent for Ben Hall.The University of Houston Center for Public Policy Survey Research Institute assisted with the research.-30-Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,708 undergraduates and 2,374 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 2 for “best value” among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to http://tinyurl.com/AboutRiceU.  AddThislast_img read more